If like me, you watched Alone Australia on SBS earlier this year, you probably too became enchanted by one of the contestants called Gina Chick. If you haven’t seen the series, basically, 10 people are dropped into the wilderness, in this case the western coast of Tasmania/lutruwita (in winter). Who lasts the longest wins the money (250K). Their task is to live off the land using ten basic survival tools of their own choice, filming their days with an arsenal of cameras.
Most of the contestants apart from Gina and fellow contestant Dr Kate Grarock, fought against the wilderness. Gina and Kate alternatively lived within the experience and became a part of the ecosystem around them.
Gina, who went on to win the challenge (staying the longest for 67 days) became part of our weekly viewing as we watched her become a part of the living landscape. She dissolved into the soil, the vegetation, the sky and the water. She sang to the platypus who visited, and danced on the moss. She gave thanks to every animal who provided her with food. It seemed like a powerful approach, to become a part of nature instead of fighting against it.
A born writer and a poet (her grandmother after all was no other than Charmine Clift), Gina brought us insights on what it truly means to ‘be of nature’.
We don’t need to go solo in winter wilderness. Simply kicking off our shoes, leaning against a tree and listening to birdsong is enough to start the process. It’s a big thing to sit solo without any distractions.
In an interview with We are Explorers, Gina gives us some advice to those of us who live in urban areas. This is what Gina had to say.
‘Go and find a park and kick off your shoes and close your eyes and squish your feet into the grass and let the sun hit your face. Take a couple of deep breaths. And all of a sudden you’re plugging into the battery of wild nature and allowing energy to come up through your bare feet, which is traditionally how our hunter-gatherer ancestors would spend a large part of their time walking on the Earth.
I think that the more we can allow the natural arches of our feet to do their job and not make that first point of disconnection our feet, the more that we can start to connect with our feet into the Earth.
What happens when we get out of the doing and into the being is we start to allow the hamsters on the wheels of our mind – well they probably initially speed up – but then eventually, they start to slow. And once our mind gets out of the way, what can arise is the deeper wisdom in our, I would say, DNA and in our instincts, in the birthright of our hunter-gatherer ancestors and in our connection with the interconnected web of life that is nature. I would say it is alive in all of us, but we just don’t know how to listen.
So just to go and sit somewhere regularly and don’t do anything, just don’t do anything. And see what happens. Because after about 15 or 20 minutes, the birds come back and suddenly you might see a bird feeding its baby, you might notice that the clouds have a green tinge underneath them, or just all of the things that are part of us learning how to listen to wild nature’.
Gina’s insights can help us with the process of slowing down and finding the balance of nature in our lives. The Alone AUS series is still on SBS On-Demand, you can follow Gina on Instagram, and watch Gina on Australian Story ABC iView.
Writer: Colleen B. Filippa
With a background in Environmental Science, Colleen is the Founding Director of Fifteen Trees. In 2009, after 20 years in primary, secondary and tertiary education institutions, Colleen left the classroom to start the company. Fifteen Trees is a social enterprise assisting individuals and companies to reduce their carbon footprint by supporting community groups such as Landcare, schools and environmental networks.